Three from Mark Ryan

Hello friends. Today we have a pair of autumn releases from Mark Ryan – new vintages of his muscular Bordeaux blends, Long Haul and Dead Horse – along with a bonus Red Willow Syrah (Lost Soul). All are from the exceptional 2012 vintage, and there are no reviews yet of the finished wines, but Jeb Dunnuck did review barrel samples of Dead Horse and Lost Soul, so we’ll include those. Typically, by the time reviews are released for these wines, they’re long gone.

2012 Mark Ryan Long Haul

After losing the Red Mountain designation in the 2011, it returns in 2012, with the fruit including Klipsun, Ciel du Cheval, and Force Majeure Estate Vineyards. It’s a right-bank blend, dominated by Merlot and Cabernet Franc (49%, 44%) and rounded out with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. It was aged in 64% new French oak for just shy of two years.

There’s never been this much Franc in Long Haul, and it shows beautifully on the nose, offering its unique mix of earth and flowers and chile pepper. Merlot contributes its red cherry fruit and brewed coffee, and the supple texture is very much Red Mountain Merlot. Another thing you can count on from Red Mountain is adult Merlot, with tannins more suggestive of Cabernet, and that’s certainly the case here. All pleasure up front, this rolls into a more businesslike back-end (I call wines like this “the reverse mullet”), with a big chewy finish awash in earl-gray tannins. Power and grace rolled into a singular package: that’s the promise of Long Haul, year in and year out.

2012 Mark Ryan Dead Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

For the second year in a row, Dead Horse gets Cabernet Sauvignon on the label, as its proportion exceeds the 75% threshold. In 2012 it’s a full 82% Cab, the remainder Merlot, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot, and it includes fruit from stellar Red Mountain sites: Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, Obelisco, Quintessence, Force Majeure. It saw 21 months in 66% new French oak, and it clocks in at 15.1% listed alc. This offers a good pure Cabernet profile, with blackcurrant, graphite, and minty topnotes. The palate mixes cassis fruit with Red Mountain minerality, and the huge finish is all black tea tannin. The end of my notes is a mishmash of adjectives: massive, young, brooding, impressive. This will eventually receive a strong review from Jeb Dunnuck in Wine Advocate, as he ranged out his barrel review at 94-96pts:

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]”

2012 Mark Ryan Lost Soul Syrah Red Willow Vineyard

This has been a popular wine among our list members for years. We’ve previously offered the 08, 09, and 10 vintages of Lost Soul. We didn’t offer the 2011 because the winery didn’t bottle any (too much winter damage at Red Willow that year), so it has been since June 2012 that we’ve been able to offer Lost Soul. How nice to have it back in the fold! Raised entirely in large 500L French puncheons (42% new) for 18 months, it clocks in at 15.1% listed alc and is by far the smallest production of the three wines, at just 275 cases. This is the least likely to be available for reorder. It begins with a wonderfully woodsy nose, with earth and mushroom, woodsmoke and bacon fat, all swirling with blackberry and blueberry fruit. A tremendous palate-coater, it washes over you with its mix of rich fruit and savory goodies. With a supple mouthfeel all the way and a particularly plump mid-palate, this is texturally gorgeous, and just lingers on and on after the swallow. Jeb ranged this one out at 93-95pts.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]”

First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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